DYLAN Roberton is emerging as the player to watch at St Kilda in 2015 after stacking on five kilos and dramatically improving his running ability.
The change in the 23-year-old backman's size and fitness after an injury-affected 2014 has prompted coach Alan Richardson to dub him as being "like a new player".
And, fellow defender Jarryn Geary has predicted the former Docker will take on more of a key role next season with his increased versatility.
"Robbo is like a new player in many ways. His running has improved significantly," Richardson told AFL.com.au.
"He had a pretty frustrating year last year. He had an ankle that was giving him a fair bit of grief and he lost a fair degree of movement.
"He needed to be able to cope with the fact he was different because of that injury and needed to adjust.
"He's probably one of the most impressive trainers we've had, and he actually hasn't really joined in with our group yet.
"He's in really good shape and it's quite exciting to think he's almost a new player for us."
Roberton had further surgery on the ankle he originally hurt in late 2013 at the end of the season.
It was only a minor tune up but restricted him to just running until Christmas.
Geary said the physical change in the running half-back was notable and backed him to make an impact after he spent a large part of 2014 in the VFL.
"He looks different. He looks like an athlete," Geary said.
"He's put some weight on and is looking like a key defender - you'd look at him and think that his body has changed shape.
"He probably had a disappointing year last year compared to the year he had before due to injury, and he'd be one I'd be really confident in that's going to take a big leap forward this year."
Roberton is expected to step up his training when the Saints return from the Christmas break on January 5, and move into contact training and high-grade agility work.
Geary said Roberton's physical shift and fitness would bring another dimension to the backline if he was able to hold down a key position role.
"I think he's played that role before and with him being able to run a lot more as well, he'll be able to play a number of roles and go up on the wing and play half back and even key back," he said.
"He'll just have a bit more versatility.
"He's in really good nick and it looks like he's going to be in good shape coming into the start of the season, which is great."